While I am proud to call Dallas my adopted home, I am a California girl at heart. Born and raised in Southern California, some of my earliest memories were road tripping up to Monterey County in Northern California to explore all that the area has to offer. I’ve had some amazing times there and now, as an adult, I wanted to share my new experiences there with you all.
In case you missed it, we launched this travel portion of our website for many reasons, all of which can be read here, but the most important reason is that I am a firm believer in the world being your oyster, that you are only as rich as your experiences, that there is way too much to see in this world and too little time – all of that jazz. My intention is to show you all is just how many easy, direct flight destinations we are blessed to be close enough to to enjoy an unexpected long weekend getaway with ease.
For these reasons, it only seemed fitting then that our very first travel piece be based on Monterey, California.
Monterey has everything you could ever want and need for a quick, mind-resetting vacation. Just two short hours South of San Francisco, Monterey is paradise found. With a heavy outdoor influence, this quaint town also manages to maintain its reputation as being a tourist destination without feeling over saturated. The Monterey Bay area is known for their amazing restaurants, wine tasting and, of course, the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
We had the pleasure of heading out to Monterey over the holidays and it was SO easy to get to! We took a very early 6am flight out of DFW on United Airlines and even though we were delayed, had to rent a car and drive down to Monterey, we were still in town before lunch time so we had almost an entire day to explore, which is a great feeling when you may not have too many vacation days banked up at work but just need to get away.
Y’all want to get into the nitty-gritty? GOOD! So do I!
In an effort to make this easy on you all, I am going to list out our recommendations on everything from lodging to things to do so that you all can easily reference this article when you are in Monterey yourselves!
Hotel Pacific: The stunning Hotel Pacific lies in the heart of Monterey. Nestled on a hill that allows you to see most of the downtown area, Hotel Pacific offers gorgeous rooms reminiscent of a cozy bed and breakfast for an affordable price. This hotel is perfect for travelers on the go! It is within walking distance to almost everything in town and has several dining options within a stones throw from its front doors. With on-site parking, secluded courtyards, complimentary breakfast, WiFi and private patios, Hotel Pacific is an ideal choice for families, solo travelers or couples looking for a romantic escape.
InterContinental The Clement Monterey: One of Monterey’s most elite properties, the InterContinental sits right along the shoreline and offers some of the most stunning views of the ocean that you’ll find in town. The Clement Monterey is located within Cannery Row, Monterey’s busy tourist drag, and while you’ll be right in the thick of the action, it can get quite busy regardless of the time of year. The price tag on a room here is steep but if you are looking to truly treat yourself to a luxurious stay, this is the place to be!
Things To Do:
Monterey Bay Aquarium: The Monterey Bay Aquarium is world-famous, and for good reason. In all of our travels, this aquarium is by far the most well thought-out, conscious and stunning. With over 175,000 square feet of exhibit area and 25,000 square feet of ocean view decks, not only is the Monterey Bay Aquarium jam-packed with animals and educational experiences, but it also sits in a hard-to-believe-it-is-real location. They even have live cams of several areas so before or after your visit you can still be a part of this special place.
Monterey Bay Equestrian Center: Have you always wanted to feel like you are in a real-life movie? Well, Monterey Bay Equestrian Center can help with that! With horseback rides on the beaches of Monterey, this is a fun activity no matter your riding experience. From terrified to pro, the folks at Monterey Bay Equestrian Center are very informative, professional and make you feel at ease as your cruise through sand dunes and even gallop in the tide!
Cannery Row: If you visit Monterey, one thing is for sure, you have to walk the streets of Cannery Row. The main tourist drag in town, Cannery Row has an over 160-year-old history and at one time was a booming canning and sardine producing locale. Today it offers tourists and locals alike dozens of restaurants, gift shops, hotels and specialty shops. One of our favorites? Sea Otter Shirts, which offers everything Otter that you could ever imagine. Very fitting for life by the sea!
Gusto’s: When you’re in Monterey you’ll realize that the small towns in the area seem to blend together since they mesh so well, that is why so many people just refer to the area as Monterey Bay! Located just north of downtown Monterey is the city of Seaside, where Gusto is located! With a wood-burning pizza oven, all of your classic Italian favorites, Gusto is exactly what you would want in small-town dining. It is extremely family friendly yet romantic at the same time, the staff goes above and beyond and it is always packed! From insanely delicious garlic bread to calamari with caper berries, piping hot pizzas to biscotti – everybody is sure to love Gusto!
The Beach House at Lover’s Point: While Lover’s Point is technically in the city of Pacific Grove, it’s just down the street from downtown Monterey. With stunning panoramic views of the ocean, The Beach House offers an incredibly unique (and romantic) dining experience. The Beach House has a full bar, a heated outdoor patio and wonderful food specials for “early birds.” Even if you aren’t hungry, stop by The Beach House at Lover’s Point for a cocktail. You will be absolutely stunned by the views! If you do stop in for a meal, be sure to try out their popular bacon-wrapped meatloaf!
Crêpes of Brittany: We stumbled upon Crêpes of Brittany by accident while walking the “Old Monterey” area of town. With breakfast time looming and a line out the door, we decided to stop in because surely everybody knew something great lie within and WHOA, were they right! Deliciously fresh crepes made right before our eyes, Crêpes of Brittany is definitely a place you should add to your list!
The Wine Experience: The Wine Experience is just that…a true experience! If I lived in Monterey, I would all but move in here. With several wines “on tap” from the barrels on the wall, custom blends, delicious snacks and a wonderful staff, The Wine Experience, is truly a must-visit spot during your visit. I can only hope that they open up a location in Dallas!
So, let’s recap, shall we? You can get to Monterey before lunchtime with a quick direct flight from Dallas on several airlines. There is tons of fun stuff to do and you basically have a guide to the area so you don’t even need to plan anything on your own. Have you booked your trip yet? What are you waiting for! Monterey Bay is such a unique, beautiful, quaint and idealistic area of California, we guarantee it will exceed your expectations on so many levels!